Source: The Age
A Melbourne man who has practised as a psychologist in two states for more than a decade since migrating from Serbia is facing hundreds of charges that he defrauded the Victorian WorkCover Authority and Transport Accident Commission of about $1.3 million.
The case raises fresh concerns about the extent of background checks conducted by professional registration boards before they endorse new health practitioners in Australia.
Dusan Milosevic, 43, of St Albans, was remanded in custody yesterday after a senior WorkCover investigator told the Melbourne Magistrates Court that Milosevic’s registrations as a professional practitioner were based on apparently fake university credentials.
The court heard Milosevic was already facing 150 charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception for invoices he submitted to WorkCover for consultations purportedly done when he was not in the country.
But WorkCover yesterday filed a further 173 charges relating to $1.2 million of billed consultations since 2001. Late yesterday, the TAC filed a total of 34 charges against Milosevic, also alleging he obtained or attempted to obtain financial advantage by deception.
It claims Milosevic has treated 24 TAC clients in 430 separate consultations since 2003. The value of those consultations was $55,000.
Ian Freckelton, SC, for WorkCover, opposed any extension to Milosevic’s bail conditions, telling magistrate William O’Day that Milosevic “lives by deception” and the number of charges and size of the alleged fraud was unparalleled for a profes- sional practitioner in Victoria.
“He is not to be trusted,” Dr Freckelton said, adding that Medicare also was investigating Milosevic and further charges were likely.
A senior WorkCover investigator told the court the University of Belgrade had debunked Milosevic’s long-held claim that in 1990 he obtained a graduate diploma in behavioural and psychological science and that he completed a master’s course in 1995.
WorkCover investigator Jim Wason said the dean of the University of Belgrade’s faculty of education and another university official had confirmed there was no record of Milosevic ever attending the university. And, he said, the university had advised it did not begin offering the master’s course until 2004.
Milosevic sat in the front row of the court but did not say anything. His lawyer, Manny Nicolosi, told the court his client was adamant his qualifications were genuine. Mr Nicolosi said the charges would “fall by the wayside” if Milosevic was shown to have authentic credentials.
The court also heard from Milosevic’s friend Aleksandra Matovic, who, in faltering English, said she remembered meeting Milosevic once or twice a week between 1987 and 1989 at the university’s small campus cafe and in some criminology classes.
But Ms Matovic, who said she had been particularly close to Milosevic and his wife, Jovanka, for several years, could not confirm if Milosevic had completed his studies.
Mr O’Day remanded Milosevic until September 14, when the court will hear directions about his future committal hearing. He said Milosevic presented an unacceptable risk and was unlikely to meet his bail conditions.